1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bitter Brewer - Surly Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Bitter BrewerBitter Brewer

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

928 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 928
Reviews: 423
rAvg: 4
pDev: 11.5%
Wants: 220
Gots: 65 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
Surly Brewing Company visit their website
Minnesota, United States

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  4.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-05-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Bitter Brewer Alström Bros
Ratings: 928 | Reviews: 423 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Soonami
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%

Thanks to Chad (Kaydogg) for sharing this at one of our many tastings.

Bitter Brewer looks a like a typical bitter if a bit paler and more golden than most, but my how it distances itself from its more modest English roots with huge orangish fruit flavors. It's in the nose and rules the taste buds. The beer is appropriately dry with a little bready malt, but also very crisp from the tangy hops. This is a beer that should catch the attention of BMC and craft drinkers alike. It's very hoppy without being stupidly bitter

Soonami, Aug 27, 2011
Photo of david131
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%

A- Pours a cloudy orange liquid with a bit of brown mixed in. The white head is very thin but creamy with good retention.

S- A lot of citrus and bread. Simple but enjoyable.

T- Citrus, caramel, and bread. Simple and tasty.

M- Lightly carbonated with a clean finish.

O- A simple but very tasty beer. Would make for an excellent sessioner.

david131, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of jsprain1
4.25/5  rDev +6.3%

A- Pours a honey tangerine color with a thick, large bubbled head. The head is slightly off colored, long lasting with some lacing.
S- Smell is mild but pleasant. Slightly citrusy, slightly sweet. For a dry hopped beer I expected more on the nose, but that's ok.
T- Sweet sort of a pilsnery malt type flavor. There is a bit of a diacetyl in the finish. Slightly sweet citrusy hop presence. Really nice balance of malt and hops. A very tasty beer
M- Light bodied, low carbonation, slightly slick finish.
O- A really good beer. If I wanted to have several beers in a night, I'd probably go this direction. Super flavorful.

jsprain1, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of birchstick
3.65/5  rDev -8.8%

A - pours a golden, bronzed yellow without much of a head

S - smell is of floral, bitter hops with some sweet, grainy malts

T - taste followsthe nose well. A surprisingly bitter, floral, citrus, earthy hop flavor is first on the tongue. Hidden beneath the hops are some grainy, sweet malts. Ends with a watery, earthy and citrus bitterness.

M - mouth is a bit watery with a decent amount of carbonation

D - I fell this is the definition of a session beer. Really nice flavors and complexity, yet clocks in with an abv slightly above 4%.

birchstick, Aug 26, 2011
Photo of Vonerichs
4/5  rDev 0%

The body is a deep hue of copper with an off white head.

The smell has orange and herbal hops. Light bready malt, too.

This beer is packed with flavor for session beer. The bitterness and flavor is like orange pith. It has herbal and grassy notes. Bready malts back the bitterness.

The body drinks heavy for 4% abv. Mouthfeel is soft with adequate carbonation.

This is probably the best 4% abv beer I've ever had and whenever I have access to it, you can bet I'm buying it.

Vonerichs, Aug 24, 2011
Photo of glid02
4.2/5  rDev +5%

Can purchased from France 44 via mail order.

Pours a hazy light copper color with a bright white head that leaves solid lacing.

Smells of crisp pale malts with large amounts of floral and light citrus hops. Also present are mild amounts of breadiness and larger amounts of tea-like herbal hops.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though the hops aren’t quite as robust. Mildly dry pale malts up front are joined quickly by light citrus and leafy hops. Midway through faint hints of bready flavors come into play, fading into a moderately bitter ending. Mouthfeel is good, with solid carbonation.

Overall this is a very drinkable beer and the hops in the nose are great. Well worth a shot.

glid02, Aug 23, 2011
Photo of Tilley4
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%

Finally get to try this one!

Citrusy orange hops roll juicily out of the glass on this one... Hints of pine and grass as well as an earthiness that I find unusual... Man, the nose is pungent on this...

Rather subdued hop flavors when compared to the aromas... Definitely getting the orange marmalade thing but for the most part, its a deep bitterness that dominates... Not as flavorful as I'd hoped but still a good drink...

Terrific little session brew here... I could pound these...

Tilley4, Aug 20, 2011
Photo of inlimbo77
3.55/5  rDev -11.3%

Bitter Brewer
16oz can 6/16/11
Deschutes snifter

A: Can explosion w/o any shaking or drop. Pours a cloudy orange color. One finger off white head. Lots of carbonation. Some sticky lacing. Actually very sticky beer.

S: Such an interesting smell. It has some hop character behind the front of nose, but there is almost like "tea leaf" notes. Really crazy smells.

T: First time tasting and really different brew. There is a little bit on the front of tongue, but you really get those herbal bitter notes on the middle of the tongue and close. It doesn't stick with you (although the beer is sticky on my hands from explosion). There are some herbal/floral notes in this one that are pleasing. And the low ABV is nice.

M: Light to medium bodied beer.

O: Interesting beer. It's a much different beer than I expected. Tasting but strange at the same time.

inlimbo77, Aug 19, 2011
Photo of GilGarp
4.43/5  rDev +10.8%

Pint-sized can served cold into a smaller-than pint-sized pint glass.

Bitter Brewer is a slightly hazy golden orange color with thick sticky head.

Aroma is fresh and very hop-forward. It has great American hop character which is unlike every other English bitter I've ever had. Really pleasant to my nose.

Flavor is a little more mild than the aroma would have you expecting but it's still really well bittered with hops. A little toasted malt and caramel flavors blend with the citrusy American hops really nicely.

Mouthfeel is very light in body but well carbonated and balanced. Each sip leaves me wanting another.

Overall a great session beer. A perfect blend of English malt and American hops. Who knew the two would get along so well together?

GilGarp, Aug 18, 2011
Photo of Klym
3.98/5  rDev -0.5%

Poured into a Surly nonic. Huge thanks to expedition for both the can and the glass!

A: Pours a very translucent, nearly opaque, raisin brown with a frothy slightly off-white head. Solid lacing.

S: Huge marmalade character with a combination of stinging citrus and a spearmint/lavender mix giving big bitter, natural character. I love the smell of this, a bit off from any other beer I've had.

T: Taste is a much more toned down version of the smell with a lot more herbal character and some marmalade for sweetness. Still greatly enjoyable but I think drinks more tea-ish than the major citrus/mint/lavender compound the nose promised. Lots of marmalade blooms through in the aftertaste.

M: A little bit of a bland mouthfeel. Medium body with some grainy aspects and some very thin layers left in the afterfeel. Carbonation is present but does little beside stop the beer from feeling flat.

O: Really enjoyable and sessionable brew from Surly. Think it could've packed more abv considering how hefty it was in many other ways but I won't hold that against it. Definitely worth a shot, with unique flavors making this worth another try!

Klym, Aug 14, 2011
Photo of ColdPoncho
3.93/5  rDev -1.8%

Appreciation to C. Harris for the sharing of this beer
Notes from this evening, 11-8-11 (a la Europe)

A - clouded amber, minimal white head.

S - earthy, citrusy. An odd sort of thing here.

T - Some spices (cloves, cinnamon), lightly bitter hops

M - full and smooth. A much bigger body than expected for style and ABV

O - this is pretty good, also pretty weird.

ColdPoncho, Aug 12, 2011
Photo of Urbancaver
4.05/5  rDev +1.3%

Well this is a nice little treat courtesy of mnbearsfan

Pours a hazy cloudy golden orange. A nice bit of white frothy head. Good head retention. Smells... Bitter, mildly bitter and hoppy but more sweet and earthy than anything. Tstes similar. Low impact, subtle bitter hops compliment a very smooth sweet malt backbone. The mouthfeel is really impressive on this beer. Smooth, clean, thick, very drinkable. This beer is really enjoyable!

Urbancaver, Aug 11, 2011
Photo of Tamarack22
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%

Appearance is an orange/amber color with a white foam head that disappears over a couple minutes. Leaves some small spotted lacing. Has a sharp hop smell with crisp citrus and floral notes as well. A slightly toasted malt aroma in the background, a bit of spice as well.

Taste is crisp hops with a good malt base and tropical bitterness. The hops and malt are very well balanced and finish with definite bitterness. However, the citrus floral flavors do a good job of adding depth that distracts from the bitterness. Very approachable and drinkable for the style. I was expecting a thinner beer, but found good carbonation with medium body.

Overall Surly has done a great job with this flavor profile. Perfect for the summer rotation. The bitterness is only one piece of the puzzle, don’t let the name scare you away. Easy drinking with great aroma and flavor.

Tamarack22, Aug 08, 2011
Photo of JackieTH
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%

Pours a slightly hazy orange with two inches of light foam that slowly recedes, quite a nice and inviting appearance.

Smell is very, very nice. I didn't know what to expect with the lableing, but here is a floral and citrus hoppy, succulent nose. Reminds of Surly's own Furious or even Abrasive. Now that's a high bar to set on nose alone.

In a fairly sharp departure from the nose, the taste is not citrusy. It's bitter yes, perhaps a bit floral. Slightly bready. It left me a bit wanting, yes I know it's cataloged as an English bitter, but hey, after than nose??

Light to medium body. Finish is mildly bitter.

Overall it's pleasantly bitter and easy to drink although the nose can be confusing and like I said, may set one's mind on a different track than English Bitter.

JackieTH, Aug 07, 2011
Photo of jsanford
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%

16oz can poured into a Pint Glass.

Pours a clear copper with a 2-inch fluffy white head that leaves some spotty lacing as it dissipates. Big, fresh, and pungent hop aromas of grapefruit, orange, and pine with a slightly sweet toasted caramel malt backbone. Taste follows the nose closely, lots of pungent, floral hops with a nice toasted malt character. Mouthfeel is light and crisp, with sharp carbonation. Great beer, uniquely American take on the English Bitter style.

jsanford, Aug 06, 2011
Photo of mdaschaf
4.1/5  rDev +2.5%

Review from notes. Thanks to Shane for sharing this can last night, been wanting to try it out for a while.

A: Pours a slightly hazy orange with a frothy white head on top. Great retention and moderate lacing.

S: Surprisingly floral and hoppy. For an English style, I was not expecting there to be this much hop presence. There is also some sweetness and some bready malt.

T: The flavor profile is not as citrusy as expected based on the aroma, but there was a little bit of floral/citrus there coming through as some orange. Certainly has some bitterness and a bit of sweetness on the midpalate with some doughy malt. Finishes bitter.

M: Light to medium bodied with medium carbonation. Slightly bitter finish as the name suggests.

O: Again, a bit hoppier than I was expecting, but for me thats a good thing. I look forward to tying more in this style to see if this is an aberration. Extremely easy to drink.

mdaschaf, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of backfat
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%

received this from a random customer that frequents minnesota often. Turns out his name is phil and he may be joining us for darkness day. The amazing world of Beeradvocates sees no ends.
Poured into my brand new raging bitch glass. epic sax loop looping in the backround.

-The first thing I do when I open a can beer is try it directly out of the can. It is delicious.

-Pours a thin translucent copper. Looks thin, but still has some body. Little head and lace.

-The aroma is sweet, bready, spicy, and candy hops. So much coming out of this little 4% bitter. Nice malt presents.

-Light bodied and easy drinking. Very easy drinking come to think of it. some pine and bitter with touches of sweetness and floral hops.

-If this were more available, I would be buying it all the time. really nice session!

backfat, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of Jammies
2.4/5  rDev -40%

A- Pours a golden orange with about an inch of foam. Incredible retention and ok lacing

S- sweet and hoppy. Some slight citrus and floral notes

T-watery and light, not much flavor

M- not much body, thin and watery

O- so confused. It smelled terrific, looked great, and tasted like flavored water. Extremely disappointed

Jammies, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of Chaney
4.33/5  rDev +8.3%

Thank you SamuelJackson45 for sending me this awesome Surly!

To date, this is the #1 English Bitter here on BA... and has been for a long time.

A: A mild haze in a fairly orange brew. Honestly, this was darker than I was expecting. The big frothy, damn near solid, white head stayed active for ages.

S: Florida citrus air freshener in spades. Also, there was a good bit of golden white bread toast which was a nice touch.

T: Not the citrus bomb that the nose suggested, but some of that quality was in there nonetheless. Remarkable non-sweet actually... bitter, if you will. Doughy, and with a nice English-style bitter kick at the end.

M: Nice prickle from the carbonation, and with a mild bit of lacing that mostly fell back into the brew below it.

O: I've always had a soft spot for English bitters, and this is one of the best of them... and definitely the most citrusy!

Chaney, Aug 04, 2011
Photo of LordAdmNelson
4/5  rDev 0%

I think this is a pretty good-looking beer... and one of my favorite Surly cans to date. Pours a nice orange-y yellow with moderate white head. Nose is decently hoppy, citrusy with a bit of a toasty malty background. Flavor follows suit. Toasty malt with a light hop bitterness, and bigger hop citrusy flavor. THe marmalade and toast comparison made on the can is not far off, though I might not think of it as quite THAT fruity. MF is decent for a bitter like this--light, well-carbonated, but not watery. Overall I enjoy this beer. It's a nice break from the more intense beers that Surly makes--a nice Surly-esque take on a session beer. Kind of like a light IPA (if Abrasive is a double IPA, then this is a half IPA). Nice beer, worth trying, wish it was cheaper than the other Surlys though.

LordAdmNelson, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of YumYumGumGum
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%

A: light yellow, whitish yellow head. Easy pour into a snifter and swirled with very little lacing. Good presentation from a can.

T: I could drink this all day, great tasting beer. Nice to mix in with other aggressive beers and easy to detect florals and hops. Florals are not aggressive and blend well with the profile of this IPA.

S: faint but only the florals really reach the nose. Nice but not the most inviting aspect of this beer.

M: easiest drinking beer I've had in a while as I'm addicted mainly to imperials of this type. A very pleasant surprise.

O: definitely would recommend a four pack of pint cans will run you 9$. Great at night after work. Surly knows what they are doing. That's why I bought the kit for this one.

YumYumGumGum, Aug 03, 2011
Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.18/5  rDev +4.5%

16oz can poured into a Pint glass.

A - Pours a dark orange with an average sized light tan head. Lots of lacing is left on the glass.

S - What is that? An interesting floral hop scent really comes through.

T - Malty, but not sweet, and very floral.

D - Good carbonation, medium body.

O - Very interesting, and I am loving it.

HuskyinPDX, Aug 02, 2011
Photo of augievikings
4.13/5  rDev +3.3%

Beer pours an orange color with a good frothy head. Smell is of grass and pine. Taste is slightly bitter with a citrus suggestion and a very dry finish. At 4% ABV, this is an excellent drinking session beer with a much higher hop profile than most beers with a lower ABV. Definitely a nice beer to drink on the boat during the summer.

augievikings, Jul 31, 2011
Photo of THECPJ
3.78/5  rDev -5.5%

Reviewed from notes:

appearance: orangey gold with a 1 finger off white head

smell: grass, pine, hops, malts

taste: grass, pine, malts, dry bitter finish

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, medium body,

overall: nice english bitter. easy to drink. definitely recommend this beer.


THECPJ, Jul 29, 2011
Photo of robwestcott
3.73/5  rDev -6.8%

thanks to shawnp for this one. poured cold from the can a semi opaque light maple brown to a dogfish head shaped pint with a full finger, bubbly head with nice retention.

fairly big grassy hops aroma with a bit of tangy fruit following.

bitter, earthy hops up front and all over the tongue front to back. toasted malts right up next to the hops providing an interesting and not entirely expected balance(?)

light bodied, bitter first, big carbonation.

interesting and novel, a good beer.

robwestcott, Jul 28, 2011
Bitter Brewer from Surly Brewing Company
90 out of 100 based on 928 ratings.